January 31 is far from the Brexit saga cut-off, creative freelancers cautioned

Creative industry freelancers are being all but told that January 31st is far from the cut-off of the Brexit saga -- if certainty over their work as a UK national or EU citizen is what they want.

January 31 is far from the Brexit saga cut-off

But as Britain’s 11 pm EU exit a week Friday looms, there is a sense that the latter freelancers – not their British counterparts – are the creatives who are going to be better catered for.

Joe Owen of the Institute of Government says: “In comparison to the focus on EU citizens in the UK, there seems to be far less scrutiny of progress in securing [the] rights of Brits in the EU.

“They face a patchwork of different rules, with member states – who are responsible for implementing the citizens’ rights element of the Withdrawal Agreement – each having a different approach.”

'Fair deal for freelancers is a priority'

Behind the scenes, freelancers’ supporters like The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), are working hard to level up the playing field.

In his 2020 message, IPSE’s chief executive Chris Bryce said it was the association’s priority to get a “fair deal" on Brexit for freelancers when the government negotiates in the coming months. 

But those negotiations need to be wrapped up by December 31st 2020 – the end of the UK’s transition period, or ‘implementation period’ as the government calls it.

During the 12-month period, the UK will remain a member of the single market and customs union and will still be under EU rules, although it will not contribute to making new ones.

'Could be much like a no-deal Brexit'

Yet a UK creative industry body, the Creative Industries Federation, wants a longer transiting ‘status quo’ period – even though prime minister Boris Johnson has ruled it out.

“The future relationship between the UK and EU is still to be negotiated and, without a comprehensive agreement that addresses key issues such as IP, data, mobility and services, the impact of Brexit on the sector will be much like that of a no-deal Brexit.

“This is a particular challenge given that the government has committed not to extend the transition period that will expire at the end of this year,” CIF said.

'Businesses will benefit from thinking ahead, contractually'

Given the PM’s vow, a legal firm is urging all businesses – large ones like freelancers’ clients and small ones like sole trader freelancers, to start reviewing their paperwork now, mindful of the December 31st cut-off.

“Businesses will benefit from thinking ahead to the possible effects and implications of Brexit on their commercial contracts,” said the advisory -- A City Law Firm, speaking yesterday.

In a statement to FreelanceUK, the advisory tabled some questions that enterprises with commercial agreements in place should be asking themselves, potentially even before next Friday’s cut-off too.

“Is a 'Brexit' clause required, and where does your company stand on international trading…?” it asked. “Is doing 'nothing' an option too and if so, what could be the impact on your business if you don't prepare?”

'The need for a clearer Brexit framework'

Allie Renison, head of trade policy at the Institute of Directors is also speaking up for enterprise but says it is the government which needs to firm-up their own preparations first.

“To put in place their investments, many of our members need to work from a clearer framework on our post-Brexit relationship with the EU,” she said.

“The withdrawal agreement provides clarity for the next 12 months and no further – enough for some organisations but not for those trying to make long-term decisions.”

By the end of that 12 months, the CIF says the “likelihood” is that the UK will have only managed to negotiate tariff-free access on ‘goods.’

'Risks to the creative industries'

So the federation regards the slow pace of negotiations to date as a sign of things to come – and a sign that ‘services,’ and the temporary mobility of workers, won’t be sorted by the end of the transition period.

The Creative Industries Federation said: “There are particular risks to the creative industries in accessing the international talent and the ability to tour and collaborate with EU counterparts.

“It is vital that the government reforms existing immigration rules to take an industry-led approach in determining entry-criteria for long-term workers and that temporary workers are given the flexibility they need to work across the UK and Europe.”


21st January 2020

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